Paramount Studios presents
Bride of the Wind (2001)
"You'd like to seduce me too, wouldn't you?"- Alma Schindler (Sarah Wynter)
Stars: Jonathan Pryce, Vincent Perez, Sarah Wynter
Other Stars: Simon Verhoeven, Gregor Seberg, August Schmölzer
Director: Bruce Beresford
MPAA Rating: R for Sexuality and Nudity
Run Time: 01h:40m:07s
Release Date: 2001-11-13
DVD ReviewOne of the most fascinating personalities in the early 20th century was Alma Schindler. A real life muse, she was lover and/or wife to such notables as composer Gustav Mahler, architect Walter Gropius, painter Oscar Kokoschka and novelist Franz Werfel. Heck, throw in for laughs the fact that she was good friends with artist Gustav Klimt as well. Bride of the Wind takes a look at Alma's life and the men she loved.
As a young woman, Alma (Sarah Wynter) meets and marries composer Gustav Mahler (Jonathan Pryce). Stifled in her own artistic ambitions, she meets Gropius (Simon Verhoeven) while at a sanitarium recovering from the death of her daughter Maria. When Gustav himself falls ill and dies, Alma takes up with Kokoschka (Vincent Perez), an intense and somewhat violent wild man jealous of Mahler's memory. When World War I comes, both he and Gropius go to the wars, but afterward she marries Gropius. A chance meeting with Werfel (Gregor Seberg) leads Alma to the final love of her life.
Part of the fascination here is how Alma is going to run through all these men in 100 minutes. The film actually flows well, setting up most of the relationships well in advance of their consummations. I was anticipating some rather jarring transitions but was happily disappointed in this expectation.
Short in a perpetual soft focus, the emphasis here is of course on romance. Numerous shots seem to be included just for their extraordinary beauty. Not that that's objectionable, of course. Much of the film seems like a post-impressionist painting, quite suitable for the time period.
The acting is generally quite good. Pryce is of course exceptional as always, and Perez is quite believable as the intense expressionist Kokoschka. Verhoeven is suitably distant and unemotional as the Bauhaus founder Gropius; his buildings are as cold as the man emotionally and he bears much of the fault for 20th century architecture to my mind, so the more unfavorably he's portrayed the better I like it. Wynter does an acceptable job as Alma, but we never really get any sort of understanding of why Alma is so fascinating to these talented men. If anything, that's the biggest failing of this movie; the phenomenon of Alma is just as inexplicable at the end as she is at the beginning.
Rating for Style: A
Rating for Substance: B+
|Aspect Ratio||1.85:1 - Widescreen|
|Original Aspect Ratio||yes|
Image Transfer Review: As befits a brand new film, the transfer is gorgeous. No speckles or frame damage is visible. Colors are rich, black levels are excellent in the many dark sequences and no artifacting or significant edge enhancement was noticed. The picture is intentionally soft, so no points are lost for lack of crisp picture.
Image Transfer Grade: A
Audio Transfer Review: The sound design is good but not exceptional. The 5.1 track features a slightly broader soundstage and a warmer sound to the music than the Dolby Surround track, but both do the job quite well. The film is very heavy on Mahler's music, and it all comes through with excellent clarity and depth. This isn't a flashy audio track but it is quite sufficient.
Audio Transfer Grade: B+
Disc ExtrasStatic menu
Scene Access with 13 cues and remote access
Subtitles/Captions in English with remote access
Extras Review: Nothing whatsoever. The chaptering is rather lacking as well. Other than including a picture disc, this is about as barebones as it gets. I would have liked to at least have had a trailer to see how this picture was sold.
Extras Grade: D-
Final CommentsA gorgeous and well-acted but ultimately somewhat unsatisfying biopic of Alma Schindler-Mahler-Gropius-Werfel. A very nice transfer, but nothing at all for extras.
Mark Zimmer 2001-11-13